You may recall the verses above are the same as I wrote on my July-August letter. I include them again this month as the verses are relevant to our thoughts for the next couple of months. The focus of these verses last time was in Jesus listening and talking to anyone, encouraging us to be open to do the same. This time I’d like to draw out a focus on Jesus and the disciples eating with tax collectors and sinners. The last part of the verse implies they were among His followers, as indeed we know they were – we are all sinners!
Our focus as a Church over the next couple of months is on Eating Together, one of the Holy Habits drawn out of Acts 2.42-47. That may seem a strange title and not like our traditional thoughts about being holy. Yet it is one of the things which characterized the early Church. Part of their fellowship together was in eating together. In that, they included everyone.
The early disciples carried on the way Jesus Himself, the Holy One, had shown them in His life and ministry. Jesus showed them that eating together was an important part of their life together, an important part of their fellowship, an important part of showing that all are welcome in the Kingdom of God and an important part of their witness to others. They stood out for how they welcomed sinners, and a little later in the early Church, how they ate with Gentiles. In following Jesus, Walking the Way, we are to do the same.
We will be exploring the many Bible passages about this, as well as eating together ourselves. This month, we look forward to our BBQ on Book Sunday, a real chance for fellowship and deeper conversations with each other; our Communion Service where we eat together as we break bread; our Guild lunch, as ever an enjoyable time of food and fellowship, supporting one another; the Coffee & Conversation groups, sharing biscuits and cakes as well as our thoughts on Bible passages; refreshments at our Heritage Open Day, with opportunity to get to know people who come; MacMillan Coffee Morning at the home of the Morley’s, sharing together, and with neighbours who come, for a good cause; giving out food and water at our pop-up event, so connecting with those who would otherwise not come into contact with Church; and eating together after worship@4 at the end of the month.
The Elders will be eating together before our October meeting, and I wonder what other opportunities there will be for us all. We have many regular times we eat together as Church. We may or may not develop other ones in our life and witness together, but our exploration of this theme through the Bible and in conversation may help us to see the significance of it in our faith journey as a Church.
Love in Christ,
Clare’s Service themes and readings
Apologies they are not currently ready to publish. However, the theme will generally be eating together, and we have Book Sunday on 8th when among other things Kate Henderson will be ordained and inducted as our newest Elder; and Harvest Festival on 29th focusing on Water Aid and Climate Change.
NEW – Prayer before Church
Sundays 10.20-10.30am A few of us will get together every week to pray specifically for the work and worship of our Church. Please do join us for prayer. You will not be expected to pray out loud. There will be prayer suggestions posted every week and some weeks one or two people will lead our prayers.
As many of you will be aware, we received the sad news that Pat van Lemmen passed away peacefully at St Gemma’s Hospice in the early hours of Sunday, 11th August. We all admired the courage and fortitude with which Pat bore a long and debilitating illness, strongly supported by her faith and the love and care of her family. Pat touched the lives of so many people, serving her church and community with love and commitment and will be deeply missed. A service of celebration and thanksgiving for her life will be held on Tuesday, 27th August at 11.15am. Hans, Johanna and Miranda and their families remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Our time of quiet in God’s presence to pray for those on our hearts is on Wednesday 11th. Do join us for this short time if you can, or put aside the time to pray at home.
TO DEVELOP – Church Library
Elders have been batting around the idea of having a small library of Christian books once more. If you have read a Christian book recently that has had an impact on your faith journey, please bring it along for others to borrow and read. More details of where the Library will be located to be announced soon.
This year we shall be joined by our friends at Headingley Methodist Church to celebrate our Harvest Festival.
Rather than bringing perishable harvest goods, Elders have decided to request that you make donations to ‘Water Aid’.
We have supported the charity several times in the past, but a significant number of communities all over the world still lack access to clean water and sanitation. It is hard to exaggerate the impact this has on all aspects of life – from health to education, farming to self-sufficiency and development.
Envelopes are available for your donations and these can be gift-aided.
Both PAFRAS and the Food Bank would be grateful if you wish to bring long-life items of food.
Please may I have all contributions for the next edition by Sunday, 15th September, either by hand or to firstname.lastname@example.org. I should be grateful for written notification of any events that are being held. It is hard to remember everything and I would not wish to omit anything from the calendar.
Please let the relevant Elder know if you have a notice you wish to be read out in church that Sunday; if possible, by the previous Wednesday.
|FLOWERS FOR SEPTEMBER
|Mr and Mrs N Madill
|Dr E Cameron
|Rev C Davison
|Mr and Mrs N Madill
|Mrs R Reid
|Mrs A Seaton
|Mrs S Bollon
|Mrs M Koi
|Mrs P Hood
Many thanks once again to all who help, in any way, with the flowers in church.
Soon I shall be sending in our annual order for ‘Reform’, the official magazine of the United Reformed Church. Subscriptions are now due for 2019/20.
If you would like to subscribe to a stimulating and varied collection of articles, latest concerns and affairs of the country and news of other U.R. churches’ activities and items of interest – they make for a satisfying read.
Samples are to be found on a table in the vestibule.
Particulars from PAULINE HOOD.
|The United Reformed Church Finance Committee
|The members and friends of each local URC congregation
‘THANK YOU’ for what you help us achieve together in God’s name
The purpose of this letter is to say ‘Thank you’ to each and every one of you for all that you do for the Church and, especially, for your help in raising over £19 million in 2018 for the URC Ministry and Mission Fund. For Christians, any giving of ours is in response to the amazing generosity of God in pouring out his love through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and through his risen life in the world and the church today, through the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, it is important to say ‘thank you’.
The United Reformed Church is like a big family – about 46,000 members in 1,400 churches served by just under 400 ministers. In any thriving family, the members support each other and want the best for each other. In the URC, we are all seeking to ‘Walk the way: live the life of Jesus today’ – and to enable others to do so as well.
For most of us, this idea of the church as family is most easily seen in the life of our own local church. That is where we regularly worship God and also seek to serve our own community and share God’s love with them. There are 1,400 different ways in which this is happening and a colossal amount of worshipping and witnessing and working for the kingdom happening in URC congregations across our three nations. ‘THANK YOU’ for all you do for the kingdom in your local churches.
A crucial part of what your local church does, like any family, is support you in all that you do in your daily lives. That is where we all ‘Walk the way’. ‘THANK YOU’ for all you do for the kingdom in your daily discipleship.
But the wider family of the United Reformed Church is more than the sum of its parts. We belong to each other under God and through our sharing of resources as well as burdens, opportunities as well as challenges, we achieve more together. You can get a flavour of this from the reports of the last Mission Council on the URC website – from new resources for Pilots and children to disinvesting in fossil fuels; from the challenge to be better at safeguarding to the need for a new General Secretary. ‘THANK YOU’ for all you do for the kingdom through the wider Church, including your giving which enables your church to give to the Ministry and Mission Fund.
You might ask ‘how much should I give?’ That is a matter for you. The Church has sometimes suggested 5% of after tax income, but that is only a guide. If your church is looking at ‘Holy habits’ then one of those covers giving. If not, there are other resources on the stewardship pages of the URC website.
The URC Finance Committee is responsible for the oversight of the finances of the central United Reformed Church. Each year, our local churches raise more than £19 million for the Ministry and Mission Fund. Over 80% of this money is used to pay for stipendiary ministers and church related community workers and their training.
For a long time, the number of ministers in the United Reformed Church has been falling at roughly the same rate as the number of church members. What has fallen more dramatically over the years has been the average size of URC congregations – now around 35. So, the challenge which is exercising people across the Church is not so much a shortage of ministers, but how to make the best use of the ministers we have got in the context of small, often widely dispersed, congregations.
It is an extraordinary demonstration of commitment and generosity that the average giving per member to the Ministry and Mission Fund continues to go up each year. Although the number of URC members has been going down by a few percent each year, the total amount raised has been going down much more slowly. The total raised in 2018 was less than 0.5% lower than the total for 2017. These contributions are voluntary but they are not optional. They are an expression of our commitment to each other. The United Reformed Church could not function without them. ‘THANK YOU’ for your church’s contribution to the Ministry and Mission Fund.
NB: the contribution to the Ministry and Mission Fund requested from each local church is a matter for its Synod. The central Church is not directly involved.
If you have any questions or comments arising from this letter then please speak to your church treasurer, who has been provided with more detailed information. If they are not able to help then they will get in touch with the finance team at Church House.
Coffee & Conversation
Come and join in the conversation over a cuppa and a Bible passage:
Tuesday 17th, 2pm or Wednesday 25th, 7.30pm at the Mint café on North Lane (on the left a few yards before South Parade Baptist Church going west)
SATURDAY, 21st SEPTEMBER
10am to 3.30pm
Your support is requested as we open our church to visitors again under the banner of ‘Heritage Open Days’.
Please see Aleck if you can be in the church to welcome visitors, or Sue Bollon if you can help with refreshments Perhaps you can encourage friends to visit us and we have booklets available listing all the buildings open and the events happening during this year’s Open Days between 13th and 22nd September.
Join us at our annual barbecue following the service celebrating the Church Family on Sunday, 8th September. We hope to be fortunate yet again in being able to eat together outside on the patio in the sunshine. But, whatever the weather, you are welcome – just sign up on the list in the Small Hall so that Sue Bollon can have an idea of numbers for catering.
We shall be sharing lunch together on Tuesday, 10th September, meeting together, as usual, at about 12.30pm for lunch at 1 o’clock. The cost is £3 and most months we manage to have a small amount left over to add to our charity collection. This year we shall be supporting the work Elizabeth Lyle undertakes each year in Africa.
To that end we shall also be holding a Musical Fund Raising event in October on Tuesday, 22nd at 2.30pm and Elizabeth will be joining us in November to tell us more about what they have achieved and their hopes for the future. Join us, too at our afternoon meeting at 2.30pm on 24th September. More details in the church notices.
LAUNCH of worship@4Sunday 29th Sept, 4pm, followed by soup and a roll, and dessert
As we come to the end of our period of thoughts on ‘Prayer’ in the ‘Holy Habits’ course, here are some contributions from our members.
That I might do the right, Lord, teach me how.
Tell me the words to say, Lord, tell me now.
Tell me that God in heaven hears my plea,
That if I pray the right way, He hears me.
Tell me that if I ask, all that I need
Food to sustain, with ample left to feed
Friends who come late, more than enough to share,
Sweet Bread of Heaven, dear Lord hear my prayer.
If I should knock, a door will open wide
Into the the Lord’s house, welcoming inside
This needful soul, Lord take whate’er you see,
I fear the dark, yet put my trust in Thee.
Though men may rail and say it is too much
That you give life where death is, at a touch.
A woman asked relief, and she believed,
And life was given unto those bereaved.
Lord take my life and help me understand
Without Your guidance, nought in life is planned.
Then will I have some purpose, and instead
I’ll take Thy body as my daily bread.
Nearly 2 years ago Ann Woodhouse wrote about James Montgomery who was educated at Fulneck School and later became editor of the ‘Sheffield Iris’. The hymn she commended to us was:
‘Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.’
Ann further writes, ‘We sang this hymn, which is one of my favourites at an early service on prayer. Another of the verses is particularly helpful at difficult times
‘Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air,
His watchword at the gates of death:
He enters heaven with prayer.’
The hymn was first used with two others of his in non-conformist Sunday Schools in Sheffield. Some hymn book editors have hesitated over it because it is more a poem about prayer than a hymn and have preceeded it with:
‘O Thou, by whom we come to God
The Life, the Truth, the Way
The path of prayer Thyself have trod
Lord, teach us how to pray.’
(no. 445 in Congregational Praise)
Another hymn which we used in that service was: ‘Pray when the morning breakest’ which we have sung as an anthem. I especially like the thoughts conveyed in the last verse:
‘But if ‘tis e’er denied thee
In solitude to pray
Should holy thoughts come o’er thee
Upon life’s crowded way:
E’en then the silent breathing
That lifts the soul above
Should reach the throned Presence
Of mercy, truth and love.’
This was written by Mrs Jane Cross Simpson (1811-1886), daughter of an advocate in Glasgow. She married her cousin who edited the ‘Edinburgh Literary Journal’ to which she contributed writing several publications including one on Woman’s History. Her other hymns include ‘Go when the morning shineth’ and ‘Star of peace to wanderers weary’.
She is not included in ‘Rejoice and Sing’, unlike James Montgomery who is represented by nearly a dozen, such as ‘Angels from the realms of glory’ and ‘Be known to us in breaking bread’.’